Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Survivors Just Survive

Is there an easy way to start over? I don’t think so. We come full circle in our lives just to learn how to not do things the next time. There’s no guideline to follow. There’s no right and wrong answers. We’ve all followed different paths to bring us to where we are now. No matter the circumstance, the only thing I know for sure – starting over sucks.

I’ve learned a lot over the years. I’ve devoted more time than was ever necessary trying to love enough for all the wrong people. I’ve got wounds that cut deeper than any scar I ever thought I’d carry. I am guilty of causing myself more grief than I deserve. I wear guilt like my favorite t-shirt. I have a heart that I have tried to protect and have failed miserably in doing so. It’s always thrown out to the frontlines, the first to come back aching and injured.

In my 38 years, I have found that I only really know a few things about myself. I don’t know anything for certain. I never have. I only know those things about myself that have aways remained consistent. I know that I’m opinionated and stubborn. I know that I want to be free but can’t afford to pay for yesterday’s footsteps. I know that I have had an internal longing for as far back as I can remember. I was never able to pinpoint why, and I still can’t. Yet, here I am trying to make strides with this hole in me that keeps getting bigger. It lets the hurt in. It just keeps gathering and swallowing. I’ve always been a glutton. And I’m full. I’ve been full. But there seems to be no stopping the process.

I look to others for a smile but I have always hated crowds. I know that when I’m alone, I cry. There have been days that have passed that I couldn’t remember what my own voice sounded like because I haven’t had anyone there to hear it. But I have also learned from my own experiences that it is much better to be alone than surrounded by the wrong people. Though both take their toll, others will never concede to an understanding they refuse to have as their own. And trying to make other people understand is tiring. Empathy isn’t learned.  Sympathy is not something everyone is built to give.  Love is thrown around like that note the teacher finds and reads aloud in class.  You put so much into it only to hold your head in shame.

I know that I’m afraid of the dark. There’s an emptiness there that is indescribable. Being alone isn’t easy though I’ll often say I’ve mastered it. Silence is never as quiet as other people believe it to be – but those are the ones that have never really heard it. Darkness has a power to make your imaginations spring to life.  The worst of anything gets riled there and it can overtake you if you let it. Negativity thrives on uncertainty, and uncertainty is its biggest in the dark. It takes over like a flash flood.  You become a victim that gets swept away in the smallest instant without a warning.

I don’t mesh well in the real world. It never really was my forté. I can fake it like the rest of them but it isn’t easy for me to do and I don’t like to do it. I don’t try to be a part of it. Pretending is exhausting. I’m outspoken and I own it. I say things that others don’t or won’t. I don’t turn from confrontation and I often feel like I knock on doors waiting for it to meet me face-to-face. I’m afraid of life but fearful of death. Though this fear I’m certain is more normal than not. I’m inquisitive but I’m not nosy. The answers I want are to questions that people don’t often ask. Many are satisfied with being placated by ambiguity. Or maybe they’re just afraid of the truth.

While others are careful in what they say, I say what’s on my mind.  I don’t censor it, I don’t pretty it up. I am brash. I am honest. I am also my own worst critic. I can tear myself down faster than any of my number one haters. And I’ve collected a few. It used to bother me to not be invited for conversations when people discuss me or things I’ve taken the time to know about and understand. But I have also found that it’s just easier for other people to pass judgment instead of dealing with themselves. Sometimes people just focus on others to keep it from being placed upon themselves. But I know I will always hate opinions based on unfounded truths. I ask more questions than a toddler that’s learned to ask, “Why?”. I will always look for teachers. I will always need someone to fill in the blanks that I have because I know that I will never stop wondering.

I’m educated enough to know that I hate shallow conversations and shallow people. I don’t think I will ever understand why so many people think they have to belong somewhere or to something just to save face. I don’t understand why it’s so easy for people to follow a crowd than to stop and ask if they are sure it’s where they need to be. I believe in fate, destiny, and following my ‘guts.’ My experience has taught me that it is more brutally painful to ignore what I feel than to listen and blindly trust myself. I hold on to my dreams with white knuckles. I don’t want to let go of them as easy as I know others have.

I’m a writer. I always have been. If words were what true love felt like, I’d have never spent a day in sadness. I love the smell of books and I will never own enough of them. More than likely I will never read most of them but having them around me is comforting. Each book holds its own story and has its own author. Authorship is something I respect. I envy it. I hope to someday have a consistency within me to fill my own cover from from beginning to end. I’m a poet. I give credit for my poetry to the sadness within me that has always been there.  I guess, the parts I hate about me I will always love to an extent.  It’s the sadness that makes me compassionate.  It’s my compassion that pushes me to do more. For some reason the sadness tells me more of what most might not ever understand.  I’m human.  I’m flawed.  I accept this, and I accept the world as being the same.

I’ve never felt as awkward with a stranger as I have inside of my own skin. I’m a walking contradiction as I proclaim my independence while not being able to fully survive on my own. My son adores me and I don’t know why. But when he laughs, he melts my heart. Maybe it really is the purest form of unconditional love there is, or maybe I’m still learning that. Most days I wake up hoping that he will never feel this ache like I do. I hope he never cries himself to sleep at night, or knows what it feels like to be ignored while just hoping to be loved. I get through each and every day just knowing that he’s mine. And every single day that will always be enough for me. Maybe it will always be just me and him, but I know it will always be me and him. He keeps me grounded, even on the days I feel like I can fall and shatter into a million pieces.

I’ve lost many things in my lifetime while holding on to the most precious. I’m not materialistic and I don’t care about money. I may never be my own best friend, but living with the girl inside of me is much easier than dealing with the rest of the world. I’ve been humbled by starting over. It isn’t easy. I started with almost nothing and still don’t have a lot to show for myself. I’ve stood on the outside of my own family, trying to understand…where so many critics never thrived before, I see their faces now. Each one means well I’m sure, but each one wants to be his own prophetic teacher.  But I’ve also learned that only God knows what’s in store for me. Where I sat uncertain with God before, I now know He’s real and He’s everywhere.

I don’t think life will ever be easy. But maybe it’s not supposed to be. Starting over takes more than everything you’ve got inside.  It takes every ounce of energy to not throw in the towel some days. It feels like every time I gain three steps I find myself back at the bottom of the entire flight of stairs. I give too much of myself, but whether this is a weakness or a strength, I may never know.  While I have grown accustomed to struggling, I have accepted that it’s proof that I’m alive.

Life is confusing. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, it throws you off the path again. It’s unpredictable and it’s messy. All of us have struggles that others don’t understand. All of us have struggles that others may never understand. We all have our moments of not knowing. We all have the opportunity to learn more. We all have our moments of falling down and of picking ourselves back up off of the floor. We are all survivors to our own extremes.

Is starting over easy?  No.  Absolutely not. I don’t think it’s supposed to be.  But starting over is the point that you begin to learn about yourself.  Starting over is getting to ask every question and getting to seek your own answers.  Starting over is one of the biggest tests we’ll ever take in life.  In my process of starting over the one thing I’ve learned and held onto is what I’ve learned from my big sister, who is also the one person I’ve always looked up to: Don’t ever try to make yourself fit where you don’t belong. You find your people and you grow there. The ones that don’t understand you aren’t worth the fight. It’s a waste of time. Let go and go where you can just be yourself. I’ve learned to let go of the battles that aren’t mine.  I’ve learned to let go of what won’t change.

I’ve swallowed my own pride time and again in just two short years. I’ve been embarassed of what I cannot do and I’ve tried like hell to make my life my own. I’m still trying like hell to make my life my own. But I’ve also learned from experience that it’s better to keep my feet going forward than to willingly make them go backwards. I know what I will never settle for again. Good intentions won’t put food on the table, but good intentions help me sleep at night. I know I’m starting over and I’m a survivor just trying to survive.

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